Launa Eddy is a sculptor and jewelry maker living in Brooklyn. We were introduced to her via 3rd Ward and inspired by her collabs with Daniel Olshansky, Dinosaur Feathers, and most of all her interesting background. We asked her to elaborate on her timber wolf/lobster-catching youth and tell about some of her current work.
The 22 Magazine: Can you tell me a little about where you are from in Rhode Island, working on a lobster boat and about raising timber wolves ?
Launa Eddy: We lived in Richmond until I was ten, when the state of Rhode Island told us we couldn’t have wolves and gave us an ultimatum – get rid of them, or move out. So we moved to New Hampshire, the Live Free or Die state – my dad continued to run [his] lobster boat between Rhode Island and New Hampshire. While in Rhode Island I spent most of my time off of Point Judith in Narraganset, where most of my family worked as commercial fishermen/women. I spent a lot of time on the boats and the docks growing up – and I actually started working on my father’s boat when I was around eight or nine years old. I would go out with them on fishing trips in the summer and I was their ‘bander’ – I put the rubber bands on the lobster claws and prepped them to be put in the storage tanks on the boat. It was a hard job and being out at sea for three days in all sorts of weather was intense, and eventually when I was sixteen I decided I wasn’t up for the job anymore… mostly because I was prone to sea sickness.When I wasn’t working on the boat, I was often trying to catch fish on the docks, and occasionally I got together with the other fisherman’s kids and we did silly things like arrange lobster and crab races. We’d gamble for curiosities we found on our families boats. Starfish, shells, weird creatures. Everyone would bring a box of things they found and put it in the pot for whoever won the race. As you can imagine, lobsters don’t race very well, and crabs are insane and run all over the place, so it was all very silly. The wolves were pure bred Alaskan timber wolves – my father went to Alaska for a trip to meet a painter who also ran a wolf rescue, and came back with two wolf pups. We named them Sinbad and Sheba, and built them an eight foot tall cage twice the size of our house (it was pretty much a caged off section of forest) and a sweet little dog house inside of it with two stories and Plexiglas windows and a ramp so they could chill on the roof. They had it good.
The 22 Magazine: How do you feel your immersion in lobster catching and wolf raising has effected your work?
Launa Eddy: The ocean is a creepy place. On my fathers lobster boat I’d often feel like I was floating on top of some terrifying alien world – I felt like we were sea astronauts, exploring the darkness below us and kind of like we were operating one of those stuffed animal toy claw machines where you put in your dollar and hope you get the teddy bear you’re aiming for. Except this machine had some bizarre stuff and it was my job to make sure the animals were restrained so they didn’t destroy each other. Growing up floating on top of this environment part-time, then raising wolves in the woods the rest of the time, certainly effected my life and my work. There are these bizarre creatures and this kind of darkness that I like to mingle with, but then also bring it to a place that is kind of cute and amusing because the more extreme something is, I think the funnier it becomes.
The 22 Magazine: Did you study anywhere or are you self-taught?
Launa Eddy: I studied Anthropology and Archaeology at Franklin Pierce College in Ridge, New Hampshire and also graduated with a minor in creative writing, and studied glass blowing. I had been emancipated and living on my own since the age of sixteen, so I was putting myself through college and surviving off of grants and scholarships mostly, and being that I only had myself to rely on, I thought I didn’t have much of a chance at supporting myself as a visual artist. At the time I thought I might want to be a writer or ethnographer or humanitarian of sorts – and I thought studying people, culture, history and politics would help me understand the world better, and would make me a better writer. When I graduated I didn’t really have anywhere to go, so I moved to NYC to apprentice for an inventor and glass engraver in Long Island, and from there on out I started teaching myself to make things. It has been an epic journey to say the least.
The 22 Magazine: When did you first get interested in papier-mache and what about it appeals to you as a medium?
Launa Eddy: My friends and I established a group called The Compound Eye and together we started working with papier-mache – we shot short films and sketches and worked on projects together. We started making props and costumes to use in our shorts and sketches – and then from there other people asked us to make them things, and it just kept going. Papier-mache is amazing – it’s a versatile medium that is relatively light weight, as well as environmentally and economically friendly. Honestly I started making things from papier-mache because I wanted to bring to life my ideas, and I didn’t have any money to throw around. I was barely getting by and I wanted to create. It can also be a great social medium, I like working together with other people or arranging crafting nights where we put on some good music and have some wine and make amazing things.
The 22 Magazine: You’ve recently branched out to metal sculpture, which is an off-shoot of your jewelry making as well. Any future plans for projects or are you just playing it by ear?
Launa Eddy: I will certainly keep working in metal – I love the permanence of it, and making things that people can interact with. I plan to shift some of my focus onto creating furniture pieces that are more sculptural and surrealist, but at the same time, I don’t want to make this my only art form because quite frankly I’m afraid of losing my fingers. For now, I’m just playing it by ear, taking projects that I like that come my way, and do what I want. I plan to do more jewelry and hopefully some more stop motion animation in the near future as well.
The 22 Magazine: A lot of your work seems really based in humor and is really fun. What would you say to those that suggest art is not a humorous medium, but in fact should be taken very seriously?
Launa Eddy: People who say that art should exclusively be taken seriously and isn’t a lighthearted medium are interesting, and works of art themselves; they are amusing… so in a sense they kind of become what they reject as hilarious and interesting characters in this bizarre world.